Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Book Review: Cross-Checked by Lily Harlem

Title: Cross-Checked
Author: Lily Harlem
Series: Book #2 in the Hot Ice series
Release Date: 25 May 2011
Number of Pages: 123 pages
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Okay, I'll admit it, I have a crazy, lust-infused crush. Brick, the sexy right-winger of the Orlando Vipers, is the star of all my erotic fantasies. Just a glimpse of him has me panting. So when the chance to actually work with this hot hockey player comes along, of course I say yes!

Being a world-class athlete myself, I have a strategic plan to have him all tied up with lust and desperate for me too. The thing is, plans never go smoothly. Especially when my heart pedals right into the vulnerable game of love again-completely unprotected.

Luckily this sinfully delicious superstar is just as hooked on me-phone sex, bondage, anal sex and rude piercings abound. Despite my tactical errors, Brick catches me when I fall, holds me when I cry and pleases me when I need it most. He's hard on the outside, soft on the inside and plays one hell of determined game when it comes to finding the ultimate satisfaction.
This review was originally posted at The Forbidden Bookshelf.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed Hired, the first book in the Hot Ice series by Lily Harlem and was looking forward to the next books to discover more about the other Orlando Vipers hockey players and how they would find love. Cross-Checked is Brick’s story. We already got a glimpse of Brick in Hired and despite him being kind of an arrogant jerk there I suspected he had more to him and I had a soft spot for the young but warm-hearted and funny charmer even back then, so I was curious and excited to finally read his story.

Cross-Checked is narrated by the heroine, a respective athlete: Olympic medalist cyclist Carly. Carly has had a crush on Brick for a long time, she is obsessed with him and has an elaborate plan on how to seduce him and keep his interest hooked for longer than a quick tumble into bed. She wants Brick for more than the simple rink bunnies do. But when nothing goes according to her plan and Brick acts nothing like she expected she feels her control on the plan and his seduction slipping.

I dare every warm blooded woman not to melt when reading about Brick’s courting of Carly:

“I’ll take you home.” He grinned. “I’m going that way.”
“But you don’t even know where I live.” I tugged my wrist from his grip even though having him touch me sent waves of delight over my skin. He shrugged. “Wherever you live, I was going that way.”

Despite being a huge and muscle solid man Brick has a very open and generous heart. He is playful and flirty, but underneath that easygoing charmer is a man who has depth and hidden vulnerabilities. When he spoke of his deceased father and how much he still misses him even though he hasn’t lost him recently, it made me tear up and squeezed my heart. It was surprising and sobering to see the flirty playboy become instantly intense and one could not mistake his seriousness as to his relationship with Carly.
“You’re not a game to me,” he said quietly. “When I said you were all I could think about, that you were the star of all my fantasies, I was being honest. When I thought I was coming to the hospital to identify a body and help your parents organize a funeral my world ended.” His lips squeezed together and he dragged in a deep breath. “I have never, ever in all my life wanted anything as much as I wanted you to be all right, not even last year, when I really wanted to lift the Stanley Cup.” He swallowed.
“If I hand myself over to you, Carly,” he said, softening his voice, “then you need to be there for me, don’t you get it, you’ve become my weakness. I’m a big, strong guy but if anything happened to you it would destroy me.”

I found Carly’s internal monologues a bit too sappy and her self-doubt and lack of confidence in herself and in Brick irritating, I often would have liked to shake Carly a few times to finally realize what a good man Brick was and not to miss out on her chance to be happy with him. It was nice to have a story where it was the hero who was sure of his feelings and set on the course to take their relationship further.

Verdict: Just like HiredCross-Checked is rather a sensual romance than erotica due to the well developed storyline, characters and emotional journey of the characters taking the main stage instead of the physical scenes.

I have to say I liked Cross-Checked even better than Hired, it was wonderfully hot and heart-warming. I love how 3D Lily Harlem makes her characters, they feel like real people and not just cardboard props in a story. A great story and series I would recommend!

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 6/10 - the male model looks like a great Brick, but sadly the woman is so tramp-looking, not like Carly the athlete :-/

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